Corporate responsibility

We are committed to developing and implementing a successful corporate responsibility programme that benefits key stakeholders and utilises our core skills to make a sustainable difference to the communities we operate in. We believe that a successful business must also be a responsible business.

We aim to:

  • Achieve sustainable profits for our shareholders
  • Build enduring relationships with key stakeholders, including our customers, partners and the community
  • Value our employees
  • Respect the environment
  • Use our core skills to give something back to our local communities

Our corporate responsibility objectives support our vision and values, with our key focus being on the following four areas:

These corporate social responsibility principles are part of the way we operate on a daily basis and reflect in the way we deal with customers, employees, partners and the community.

Customers

We continue to promote a customer focused culture in all of our businesses. Customer Charters, or Promises, which are now in place in each territory outline our commitment to our customers; we’ll make things easy for customers and treat them fairly, every step of the way. Our charters have been committed to by all of our colleagues, from the management teams to those on the front line and are now fully embedded in all of our businesses.

We undertake ongoing customer satisfaction surveys and actively monitor customer satisfaction, net promoter scores and customer effort.

Community

The UK business has continued its long-term support for Marie Curie through schemes such as ‘Pennies for Patients’, charity holiday, clothes collections for local shops and site specific fundraising events.

On a local level we supported over 100 community groups through our partnership with Midlands newspaper, the Express & Star in respect of its ‘Cash For Your Community’ initiative. Groups supported ranged from a disability charity to a youth drama club.

We have continued our support for Midland Langar Seva Society which helps the homeless in the West Midlands. Our People volunteered 700 hours, served 8,300 meals and supplied 6,900 food bags this year, with different teams volunteering each week.

At Christmas we supported local causes near to our operations, such as the Salvation Army in Banbury and the Manchester Children’s Hospital with donations of presents and food.

Over 300 volunteers across the UK business gave over 1,750 hours of volunteer time for the 2016 Sport Relief campaign. We answered a phenomenal 2,369 donation calls and raised over £70,000. Both Walsall and Preston took part this year, a first for Preston and the twelfth year for Walsall.

We are also proud to have been recognised for our community initiatives by winning the prestigious ‘Community Champions’ award at the 2015 Express & Star Business Awards.

Our US business has established a ‘Helping Hands’ programme to support charities nominated by employees and also to provide assistance to employees who are going through difficulties. More than 17 charitable organisations have been supported during the year with over $82,000 being donated by employees and the business.

In France and Spain, the focus has been on supporting local charities both by fundraising and volunteering. Activities have included decorating, electrical repairs and toy and food collections.

Our programme to help disadvantaged homeowners who are faced with a home emergency has continued during FY16. The programme was inspired by an initiative introduced in the USA and has now been established in the UK, France, Spain and Italy.

The programme leverages our existing service infrastructure and financial resources to help homeowners in need. It is managed locally and is used in a number of different ways to help homeowners in need. Examples include low income households facing an emergency situation but who do not have a policy and existing policyholders whose policy might not cover the work required.

Employees

Our employee values and successful characteristics initiative continue to underpin our strategy to deliver consistently good customer service and are embedded in our recruitment, selection, development and reward arrangements across the Group. Our effective use of our successful characteristics ensure that individuals hired or promoted possess the right attitude and behaviours, as well as the necessary commercial and technical skills. We continue to review both performance and potential against these characteristics as a key part of our annual performance management, career development and succession planning processes.

The values espoused in our People Charters, now embedded in our UK and US businesses, form an integral part of our recruitment, selection and development programmes. They also complement our Customer Charters, or Promises, and seek to further align our employees’ interests to the delivery of excellent customer service.

We continue to enhance our talent assessment and succession planning processes, adopting the ‘nine-box’ matrix model, which helps us to identify leadership development opportunities for our employees. Using this information, we have been able to develop co-ordinated talent and leadership programmes across the business, from front-line developing leaders to senior executives.

We attach considerable importance to ensuring that all our employees benefit from effective communications and engagement, using regular business updates, senior management briefing sessions and “surgeries”, question and answer opportunities and constructive relationships with employee representatives across the Group. We also encourage our management teams to hold regular informal update meetings and social events to keep our employees informed and engaged.

A Group-wide employee engagement survey is run each year, with results reported to the Board and action plans devised, implemented and tracked locally. We also make use of interim ‘Pulse’ surveys in our businesses in order to better track the progress of our employee engagement initiatives during the course of the year. Results from the most recent survey show that engagement levels in each of our businesses are higher than the country average but we aim for continuous improvement. Employees are actively involved in the creation and delivery of plans and best practice for the promotion of employee engagement, which are shared across the Group.

It is our policy that all people be considered for employment, training, career development and promotion on the basis of their abilities and aptitudes, regardless of physical ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or ethnic origin.

We apply employment policies that are fair and equitable for all employees and these ensure that entry into, and progression within, the Group are determined solely by the fair application of relevant job criteria and by personal ability and competence. We actively promote the international transfer of our employees within and across each of our businesses where this is likely to assist the development of both employee and business, and our senior HR community meets regularly to share best practice and identify opportunities to develop our employees’ careers.

Full and fair consideration (having regard to the person’s particular aptitudes and abilities) is given to applications for employment and the career development of disabled persons. Our training and development policies also make it clear that we will take all practicable steps to ensure that if an employee becomes disabled during the time they are employed, their employment can continue.

Environment, Health & Safety

Health, safety, wellbeing and environmental guardianship remains central to everything we do across all of our businesses. All of our businesses are required to comply with ten guiding principles for occupational health and safety and another ten for environmental management. The Group has a proactive assurance programme of H&S performance and facilitates crossbusiness learning and programme sharing. We continue to strive for zero work related illness and injury.

Leadership

Corporate leadership of health and safety is strong, with Johnathan Ford, Group Chief Financial Officer, as Board Champion for environmental, health and safety matters. HR Directors continue to lead safety matters in each business, except in the UK where responsibility has transferred to the Chief Risk Officer. The Group Safety Director continues as an independent member on the UK Health and Safety Executive’s Challenge (adjudication) Panel.

Continuous improvement

Intra-company safety benchmarking is strong and accident frequency rates are used to compare both injury rate, safety culture and levels of engagement; and in preparation for the new ISO45001 specification, gives a leading indicator of safety leadership. Our US and UK businesses have started an exchange programme for their specialist Health & Safety advisers. Carbon emission continues to be measured across all Group companies, and the UK business left the UK Government’s monitoring scheme as its carbon emissions had fallen below the scheme’s threshold.

National highlights

The UK business has again received a Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Occupational Safety Award at the Gold Medal Award level, testimony to the continued success in driving down safety risk.

The US business has a strong health and safety relationship with the union and together they are continuing to see incident reduction.

In France, the focus has been on psychological intervention for stress risk reduction in the call centres, with the UK piloting the French approach in two business areas during the year.

An innovative learning and development programme has been launched in Spain to enhance wellbeing and reduce perceptions of stress risk. Risotherapy is at the cutting edge of alternative coping strategies to enhance the perception of happiness and boost performance.

Legal

There have been no prosecutions or other enforcement actions taken in respect of our businesses by any of the national health, safety or environmental regulators.